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Lifestyle Behaviors Associated With Function at Work

Last Updated: September 28, 2010.

Lifestyle factors -- particularly smoking and obesity -- are associated with sick leave and decreased productivity among workers, according to research published online Sept. 27 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

TUESDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Lifestyle factors -- particularly smoking and obesity -- are associated with sick leave and decreased productivity among workers, according to research published online Sept. 27 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Suzan J.W. Robroek, of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed data from 10,624 workers in 49 companies, who disclosed their perceived productivity on their most recent workday and the number of days they couldn't work in the previous year due to health problems.

The researchers found that obesity was associated with a higher risk of sick leave (odds ratio [OR], 1.25) and long duration of sick leave (OR, 1.55) compared to a normal weight. Other factors associated with sick leave were insufficient physical activity and smoking (ORs, 1.12 and 1.17, respectively). Factors associated with the degree of productivity loss were smoking, obesity, and insufficient fruit and vegetable consumption (ORs, 1.45, 1.29, and 1.22, respectively). The authors found that more than 10 percent of sick leave and higher levels of productivity loss could be attributed to obesity and lifestyle behaviors.

"In conclusion, lifestyle behaviors, and especially smoking and obesity, were associated with the presence and duration of sick leave and the level of productivity loss at work. More than 10 percent of sick leave and the higher levels of productivity loss at work may be attributed to lifestyle behaviors and obesity. Hence, primary interventions on lifestyle may have a noticeable contribution to maintaining a productive work force," the authors conclude.

A co-author is employed by PreventNed, which provided the questionnaires used in the study.

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